More than 60 graduate Early College with diploma, degree

By Leighton Bell
Richmond Community College

* Johnson, Wilson lead Class of 2015

Commencement ceremonies for Richmond Early College High School (REaCH) and Scotland Early College High School (SEarCH) were held over Memorial Day weekend, with more than 60 students graduating with a high school diploma and associate degrees.

The commencement ceremony for Richmond Early College High School was held Friday evening on the campus of Richmond Community College, with 37 students receiving high school diplomas, including 33 who have also earned an associate degree from RCC and one student who earned a certificate in Criminal Justice from RCC.

Submitted photo The Richmond Early College High School graduating Class of 2015.

Submitted photo
The Richmond Early College High School graduating Class of 2015.

Graduation for Scotland Early College High School was held Saturday morning on the campus of St. Andrews University, with 39 students receiving high school diplomas, including 32 who also earned an associate degree from RCC.

Sekoya Anderson, a member of REaCH’s inaugural graduating class in 2012, was the keynote speaker for the REaCH ceremony, which also included remarks from this year’s REaCH valedictorian, Dalton Johnson and salutatorian, Weston Wilson, as well as Student Government Association President Sarah Sweatt and the past SGA president, Anthony Bristow.

“On paper, Early College looks like a bad idea,” said Bristow. “You’re putting ninth-graders in college classes and expecting them to be able to do the same work as (college students) old enough to be our parents.

“But what we found is we were able to step up to the challenge. And then our goal became to out-perform those older students,” he added.

Submitted photo The Scotland Early College High School graduating Class of 2015.

Submitted photo
The Scotland Early College High School graduating Class of 2015.

Bristow said although Friday’s commencement ceremony was a time for celebration, it was not a time for rest.

“Anyone who keeps up with the news knows that we’re in a really bad time in our country right now,” said Bristow, who referenced infighting caused by racism and sexism.

“But when I look at the Early College, I see there is still hope in the world,” he said. “When I look at our school, there is no hatred. There’s no sexism, bigotry or racism. We’re just one student body.

“And I challenge all of you to go out, broaden yourself and open minds around you. Use the rest of your time here on Earth to fix the world,” he added.

RCC President Dr. Dale McInnis was guest speaker at the SEarCH ceremony on Saturday, lauding the accomplishments of all the graduates.

“You bravely chose the path less followed,” said McInnis, referencing the students’ willingness to work toward obtaining a college degree while completing high school. “You had to work harder than you thought you could, and learn more than you thought you could. Instead of being told what you should do with your life, you took the responsibility of leading that journey yourself.”

Submitted photo Sekoya Anderson, a member of REaCH’s inaugural graduating class in 2012, was the keynote speaker for the REaCH ceremony.

Submitted photo
Sekoya Anderson, a member of REaCH’s inaugural graduating class in 2012, was the keynote speaker for the REaCH ceremony.

McInnis pointed out there are joys and discomforts associated with attending a small school with small classes catered to some of the county’s brightest students.

“You learned to thrive under a microscope, where others might have wilted and faded,” said McInnis. “You learned the lessons of both independence, and interdependence at SEarCH. You now know that while you have to rely upon yourself, you cannot get where you want to go without the help, support and love of the people in your lives.”

McInnis instructed the graduates to not fear taking chances, as making mistakes in life is normal and allows people to appreciate and savor the right choices they make. He also challenged the graduates to remember those who’ve helped them along the way and “pay it forward.”

“When the time comes, tomorrow or 10 years from now, and you can help someone the way you were helped here at SEarCH, remember me and reach out your hand, and be the difference that gets someone through a bad class, a bad day or a bad moment,” McInnis said.

Richmond Early College graduates

Jeremy Eston Bailey, Anthony Clay Bristow, Quatey Devon Brown, Jarrett Bryan Carter, Killian Blake Dawkins, Jessica Lynn Dibble, Justin Garfield Duncan, Brittany Nicole English
Vincenzo Thomas Giannetto, Tyson Cole Howlett, Dalton Wayne Johnson, Hunter Rose Lewis
Ariana Elise Lynch, Brandon Alexis Madrigal, Hanna Ingrid Grace Marks, Tia Elisa McIntyre, William McLaughlin III, Katelyn Paige Miller, Krysta Storm Norton, Deneshia Antrelle Patterson, Kyle Lee Pedley, Savanna Brook Pettet, Tracy Marie Pratt, Kayla Brooke Pressley, Tyson Walker Pruitte, Arthur Levarne Ratliff, Alyssa Nicole Rush, Kaki Leadavin Sanford, Emily Brooke Smith
Ny-Asia Takiah Smith, Thomas Eugene Smith, Sarah Grace Sweatt, Zachary Russ Walker, Amber Renee Wilkes, Mary Katherine Williams, Weston Reed Wilson and Kaitlyn Belle Yates.

Scotland Early College graduates

Deja Quayshan Barker, Jonanthan Wayne Bristow, Naeisha Lucille Brown, Langston Whentworth Byrd, Benito Cantoran Cortez, Patience Juliene Collins, Shannon Nicole Dean, Kristy Beth Backus, Caitlyn Ashley Edwards, Roger Steven Farris, Keyonta Laqueishia Greene, Hannah Nichole Hardy, Patrick Jameson Hamilton, Salim Adonnis Holloway, Aliayah Shade’ Hunt, Emily Morgan Jordan, Khaiela Michelle Ladson, Christopher Thomas Locklear
Vendala Marie Locklear, Shania Taylor Manning, Harvey Arthur Massey III, Jea’Niya Meshae McCall, Shiquerra La’Na McKoy, Christopher Jamar McLaurin, Talia Monayh McLean, Chamyria Fa’Tachia McNair, Con’Esha Simone Prince, Valerie Blake Rierson, Katherine Alice Riggins
Rickeya Le’Ree Robertson, Hannah Elizabeth Smith, Brittany Louise Stephens, Brittany Dianne Tolbert, Toniesha Andriel Townsend, Daniel Kyler Wiggins, Kayla Simone Williams, Kiana Kapri Williams, Ryann Denise Williams and Hannah Reann Wyland.

About the Early College programs

Richmond Community College has partnered with Richmond County Schools, Scotland County Schools, North Carolina New Schools and St. Andrews University to provide local high school students the opportunity to obtain an associate degree along with their North Carolina high school diploma.

All eighth grade students who reside in Richmond or Scotland County are eligible to apply for entrance to REaCH or SEarCH, respectively. REaCH and SEarCH staff will visit each middle school during the month of February to provide additional information about the programs.

Admissions decisions for Early College High School are made by faculty and staff of Richmond and Scotland County school systems.

More than 80 percent of SEarCH and REaCH graduates receive an associate degree from RC along with their high school diploma, compared to 40 percent of Early College students statewide.

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